Wenlin Software for learning Chinese

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Original author(s) Tom Bishop
Developer(s) Tom Bishop and others
Initial release 1997 (1997)
Stable release 4.0 / January 30, 2011; 4 years ago (2011-01-30)
Development status Active
Written in C
Operating system (version 4.x) Mac OS X, Windows, Windows Mobile; (version 3.x) Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, Windows; (version 2.x) Mac OS classic, Windows, DOS, (version 1.x) Mac OS classic, DOS
Available in English
License Proprietary
Website www.wenlin.com

Wenlin Software for Learning Chinese (Chinese: 文林; pinyin: Wénlín; literally: "Literature forest") is a software application designed by Tom Bishop, based on his experience of the needs of learners of the Chinese language, predominantly Mandarin. It contains a dictionary function as well as a text reader/writer function for reading and creating Chinese text files. Flashcards of new characters can also be compiled to aid in learning. By pointing the cursor at a Chinese character the software looks up an English word, and vice versa, working like a dictionary. If a word is selected out of context this "could be extremely misleading for Chinese language students"[1] (note however that this review is rather dated and may not apply to the current version). The Wenlin software can recognize files in Unicode, GB 2312, Big5, and HZ format.

List Function[edit]

The software allows the user to display lists of Chinese characters ordered by pinyin, stroke count, frequency, components, or Unicode. It also displays lists of words by pinyin, frequency, and serial number. English words can be displayed alphabetically, as well as the 214 radicals of the Chinese language.

Dictionary Function[edit]

The dictionary function allows the user to input Chinese characters or pinyin (including the phonetic marking) to search. The user can also highlight words in a text and search for them in the dictionary. Wenlin has its own built-in dictionaries, but user-created dictionaries can be uploaded into the software.

Current Version and Compatibility[edit]

It is marketed by the Wenlin Institute, a commercial software company run by Tom Bishop. The current version is 4.0.2 (April 22, 2011), and a free demonstration version of the old version (3.4.1) with a very small dictionary is available for download. This version supports several functions such as stroke order, ordering characters by different criteria (stroke order, radical, number of strokes), audio files of characters being pronounced, and the identification of drawn characters.

Version 3 runs on all versions of Microsoft Windows, as well as Mac OS X and Mac OS 9. As of August 2005, the company is working on a Java version.

Version 4 requires Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, XP and Apple Mac OS X for Intel (10.4 through 10.6). For Mac OS X, Intel processor only (not PowerPC) machines are supported.

Wenlin runs on Linux using Wine, but no official support is available yet.

External links[edit]